Advice about naming a business

By: Kevin Duncan

Date: 13 October 2011

Choosing a name for your business can be tough, but it can be approached methodically. There are five main types of company name:

  • Descriptive (Premier Sandwiches)
  • Owner-named (Dave's Sandwiches)
  • Multiple owner-named (Johnson Hobson Wilson Potato Peeler)
  • Pointless initials (DS Ltd.)
  • Irrelevant but memorable (Orange, as in the mobile phone company)

If you wish to portray a solid but unremarkable image, the descriptive approach may be justified. However, it is worth noting that inventive branding has permeated almost every product category these days, so you should be as brave as you can be.

The second option (ie owner-named) may be relevant if you have a reputation from a past life and it will be helpful for past clients to know that it's your business. In the case of Dave's Sandwiches, this is unlikely, but if you are a prominent expert in a specific field, it may be relevant.

Multiple owner-named business names are unwieldy and hard to remember. As a start-up this is unlikely to be an issue, but if you are going into business with several partners consider the pitfalls of choosing a long-winded name just to satisfy the founding partners' egos. It may not benefit the business, so resist this route if possible because it usually just leads to hoots of derision.

Option four, pointless initials, is also highly undesirable. A quick glance at the phone book reveals thousands of these acronyms. Initials say nothing about you and are unremarkable, so resist using them.

The last option, irrelevant but memorable, can be fun if done well. For example, if you work in a fairly dry sector, the use of a fun, lively name might make your business more memorable. All of this is of course a matter or personal taste, but usually it really is worth dreaming up a distinctive, memorable name for your business.

This extract is taken from Kevin's recently published book – What You Need to Know About Starting a Business

Kevin Duncan – business adviser, marketing expert and author

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